Sunday, April 3, 2011
Frogs are Creepy and Disturbing
FROGS ARE CREEPY. I find their whole life cycle frighteningly complex and disturbing, and their extensive metamorphosis to be the stuff of horror movies.
Frog metamorphosis is so utterly dramatic that it kind of freaks me out.
I mean, we're not just talking about losing a few gills and having your skin get a bit warty.
We're talking about growing a tail, and then losing a tail; growing little legs, and then getting gigantic hopping legs; starting off as a creature of the water, breathing through gills, and then developing lungs and becoming a creature living on land; and finally, starting off as a vegetarian eating algae, and when you leave the water to live on land, having your whole digestive system going from vegetarian to carnivore. That is a dramatic shift requiring a complete anatomical change. That is creepy!
Imagine just turning into, say, a cow one day, with four stomachs and chewing your cud.
And those legs! Those gross legs! They remind me of chicken wings with swim flippers attached.
Oh, and their demonic banshee croakings don't help their case. They fill the night with noise, but when you walk closer to see one, they become silent where you're standing, but croak everywhere else. You walk a bit further to more croaking, they become silent where you've come, and start croaking behind you. It's crazy-making.
Plus everyone knows you can get warts from picking them up.
Now, to the matter at hand.
I recently read The Ecology and Behavior of Amphibians by Kentwood Wells. The following description of wood frog hibernation appears on p. 122 as a chapter heading. Wells starts each chapter with a quote having to do with the topic at hand.
So without further ado:
"...[A]s the Winter approaches, they burrow under the moss, where they remain in a frozen state till the Spring. I have frequently seen them dug up with the moss (when pitching tents in Winter), frozen as hard as ice, in which case the legs are as easily broken off as a pipe stem, without giving the least sensation to the animal; but by wrapping them up in warm skins and exposing them to a slow fire, the soon recover life."
This has grossed me out completely.
If a person has his legs pulled or snapped off, he bleeds to death pretty quickly.
Now, the frog is in suspended animation, so when would he die? In the spring, when he woke up and thawed, and circulation was restored? As he thawed, would he realize he had no legs and was slowly dying as he thawed? And would he be experiencing protracted pain?
I guess you really CAN 'wake up dead.'
I've had nightmares just reading about normal frog biology. Now again, frogs are giving me nightmares. It's bad enough people have to worry about waking up alive in their caskets, imagine you were alive and sleeping, but the moment you woke up you would die.
So now, it's YOUR turn to have frog-induced nightmares.
Thanks to Mark A-T for generous use of his frog pictures. Except for that mutant frog. I just took that off the internet.